Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Gorsuch Casts Deciding Vote on Immigration Case - It May Surprise You

Gorsuch Casts Deciding Vote on Immigration Case - It May Surprise You

Immigration judges would have allowed Dimaya to be deported, but the federal appeals court in San Francisco struck down the provision as unconstitutionally vague.

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch's latest vote is confusing his conservative fans. The majority opinion in that case was one of the last written by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016 and whose seat Gorsuch filled.

James Garcia Dimaya, a native of the Philippines, was admitted to the United States in 1992 when he was 13 as a lawful permanent resident. "In 2007 and 2009, Dimaya was convicted under the California Penal Code for first-degree residential burglary; both convictions resulted in two years" imprisonment.

The court issued the ruling at a time of intense focus on immigration issues in the United States as Trump seeks to increase deportations of immigrants who have committed crimes, though it was former President Barack Obama's administration that sought to deport Dimaya.

The 5-to-4 decision could limit the government's ability to deport those with criminal records, something that President Donald Trump has identified as a priority. An immigration judge determined that Dimaya was removable from the USA because of his two state court convictions.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said deciding whether Dimaya's burglaries fit that description required the kind of speculation that Scalia's ruling in Johnson said was improper.

"While Dimaya's appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was pending, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Johnson v". "The Supreme Court delivered a resounding message today: You can't banish a person from his home and family without clear lines, announced up front", Rosenkranz said. "Congress can not write a mushy standard that leaves it to unaccountable immigration officials and judges to make it up as they go along", said Josh Rosenkranz, an attorney for Dimaya. "This decision is of enormous effect, striking down a flawed law that applies in a vast range of criminal and immigration cases and which has resulted in many thousands of immigrants being deported for decades in violation of their due process rights". The 5-4 ruling handed the Trump administration a loss on a signature issue.

Though neither conviction involved an act of violence, the government argued the convictions qualified for expedited removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act's broad definition of "aggravated felony". The Supreme Court affirmed that ruling Tuesday.

Immigration officials relied on a section of immigration law that lists crimes that make people eligible for deportation. The Justice Department's Board of Immigration Appeals, an administrative body that applies immigration laws, refused to cancel his expulsion because the relevant law defined burglary as a "crime of violence".

"Even when it's going to put people in prison and deprive them of liberty and result in deportation, we shouldn't expect Congress to be able to specify those who are captured by its laws?"

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